At the 12th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + the Future of Spine, June 12 in Chicago, David Geier, MD, medical director of East Cooper Sports Medicine in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., discussed the growing importance of physicians using social media and using it well.
There are 1.3 billion people on Facebook and more than 9,000 tweets sent out every second, but aside from these impressive statistics, why should healthcare providers learn to use and leverage social media?
"The problem with traditional marketing is that you are paying to reach people, many of whom don't need your services," said Dr. Geier. "Social media is different. The focus isn't the numbers. If traditional marketing is about shouting a message, social media marketing is about communicating and interacting."
Every physician can create a powerful and professional online platform based on three pillars, which are:
1. Brand. You can use your social media platforms to build your brand, said Dr. Geier, people will be able to interact with you and you can share content that drives them back to your website. "The first step to branding yourself is choosing a name," he says. " Use that name everywhere —in your email, all social media handles and your website. This is the name you will be associated with."
2. Website. According to Dr. Geier, when creating a website, use a consistent look and make it look really nice because first impressions are important. Customizing the website to make it more personal is also a key aspect of engaging patients via your online presence. "One thing physicians can do is ditch the hospital ID badge photo on their website," he said. "Hire a photographer to take photos that show some personality." Dr. Geier suggests using a self-hosted Wordpress site, as these are easy to use and customize.
3. Content. "Ensure that the content on your website is dynamic and not static," said Dr. Geier. "Dynamic websites rank higher than static sites and engages patients. Create a blog and update it regularly." It is important to remember that patient's don't just want to know about their physician's accomplishments and experience, they want information that is useful and relevant to them. "Also, physicians should write their own content," he added. "Customers can sniff out content that isn't written by the physicians and distrust develops." It is essential, however, that physicians be consistent about their blog post writing. Physicians need to figure out a system that works for them — don't do 20 posts in a month and then burn out, he said.
"Don't try to be everything to everybody," said Dr. Geier. "Know your message and give it time. Give away your insight and expertise. Whatever you give away will come back to you tenfold."